How cheesy is this title?

The inevitable has happened – I have started liking cheese. Yes, I grew up hating cheese because the flavour and taste was too strong for me but all of a sudden I realize that I have started ordering for Veg Cheese Frankie instead of my regular Veg Frankie without cheese. I think my sudden love for cheese started when we had to make cheese herb bread sticks in baking class. I actually did not put cheese and just made my breadsticks with herbs but then I tasted one that my fellow baker had made and woa! I was amazed. Those breadsticks were so yummy!

Cheese Breadsticks

I’ve started picking up cheese flavoured chips and crackers from supermarket. I think now I understand what people meant when they said that once you get addicted to cheese, there’s no going back!

The good bit is that I still don’t enjoy cheese in most of my food items and while I enjoy my frankie and tacos with some cheese, I continue to detest cheese in my pizza (Yes, it is true) or pasta in white sauce.  I love to look at a cheese platter though; it looks so pretty. Hopefully one day I might be able to get over my dislike for cheese and experiment with various types of cheese.

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I’ve not started adding cheese to my Maggi (I think that is the ultimate test you have to pass to be a cheese lover) and I’m assuming that is a good thing.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this wonderful image (Brownie points if you can guess the original movie name!)  Do you also have a random food item that you started liking/disliking all of a sudden?tumblr_mm95a8Haay1ruouzco1_500

The world’s best pasta recipe

I love pasta. I absolutely love it. I want to have pasta on good days and not so good days. And because I want to have pasta so frequently, I decided to ditch the cheaper and yummier Bluebird pasta for a more wholesome Essential Waitrose durum wheat pasta.

I’ve tried pasta from various brands and eventually settled for the Essential Waitrose one. I usually pick up their penne pasta (Rps 150/- for a 500 gm packet) and surprisingly it lasts longer than the Bluebird one. Maybe it has something to do with the core ingredients but I require a smaller portion of the Essential Waitrose pasta. Note: While this pasta does not ‘fluff up’ after boiling, I’ve noticed that the quantity of pasta increases after it has boiled.

Hypercity also stocks the wheat variants in fusilli and spaghetti but none of the other fancy shapes. This is how the packet looks (You can distinguish these pasta from the regular ones as these are more brown)

Essential Waitrose Penne

Essential Waitrose Penne

And while I have bookmarked a million yummy pasta recipes, I end up making the same recipe over and over again – Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino.” Don’t let this complicated name confuse you. I promise this is the easiest recipe you will come across. This is a traditional Italian dish which literally translates to spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers. Yes, that simple.

But being an Indian, I need some flavour in my pasta. Here’s are the ingredients that I use for this recipe.

– Olive oil

– Garlic (Lots of garlic!)

– Dried Mixed Herbs

– Oregano

– Paprika

– Spaghetti/Penne

-Salt

After you’re done boiling the pasta, take a pan and add olive oil to it. Add garlic, dried mixed herbs, oregano, paprika and salt and mix it. That’s all. Yes, that simple.

The best pasta in the world!

The best pasta in the world!

You can even serve this with garlic bread but I don’t want anything to interfere with the taste of the pasta so I just have mine straight out of the bowl! Yum!

Do you have a favourite pasta recipe?

Let’s go grocery shopping

I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now that I love grocery shopping. Call me old fashioned but I would love to spend lazy afternoons in a supermarket. The closest supermarket to my house is Hypercity and while I find a lot of new products there that I don’t find near my house, it’s not economical for me to make constant trips to Hypercity.

The next best option is, of course, online shopping. I asked around on Twitter and found a few recommendations for online grocery stores. Before I list them out, I would like to inform you that I haven’t ordered from any of these websites personally though some obviously seem to have a better range of products than the others. These websites may also help you cut down on impulse buying which usually happens in supermarkets.

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A major factor for picking one website over the other will be the minimum order amount. If I just want a box of muesli, I’m not going to add 5 other items just to reach the minimum amount threshold.

1. www.bigbasket.com

Free Shipping amount – Rs 1000/- (or Rs 25/- for shipping charges)

2. www.greencart.in 

Free Shipping amount – Rs 75/- per day. (or Rs 30/- for shipping charges)

3. www.gourmetco.in

Free Shipping amount – Rs 750/- (or Rs 75/- for shipping charges). Their customer care tells me that cheese orders will have a Rs 100 charge due to the handling and packaging care required for cheese parcels  even if your total order is above Rs 750/-

4. www.ekstop.com

Minimum order amount – Rs 400/-

5. www.omart.in

Minimum order amount – Rs 500/- (or Rs 50/- for shipping. Shipping charges are waived off for orders above Rs 1000/-)

6. www.naturesbasket.co.in

Free Shipping Amount – Rs 1000/- (or Rs 70/- for shipping)

Update: Divya (@InsomniacGurl) shared two more websites

7. www.eemli.com

Free Shipping Amount – Rs 200/-

8. www.browntree.in

Minimum order amount – Rs 500/-

9. www.olivetreetrading.com/about-us

Minimum order valie – Rs 1500/-

I’m going to keep on updating this list as and when I stumble upon more websites. You can recommend the websites that you have used and help me build a bigger list for all the foodies! 🙂

The Colour Wheel

I’m in a weird mood currently. I want to try out food that I haven’t tried/seen before. I feel I don’t experiment enough. Eggs, for example. Every morning, people in office are happily chomping on their bhurji-pav and omelette while I have to make  do with a boring vegetable sandwich or some fruits.

Let’s be honest, a plate of omelette looks pretty appealing. It’s just that the smell puts me off 😦

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However, the mention of an omlette always reminds me of this. It’s pure nostalgia.

Introduction to French: 101

Introduction to French: 101

I also want to add more colour to my food and hence I’ve been trying to hunt for weirdly coloured vegetables. I don’t mean the yellow and red bell peppers but something else. I haven’t found anything yet but any tips would be helpful.

For example. I spotted this purple maize on the interwebs and I have no idea whether you get something like this in India. Purple Maize!

Or even something as simple as baby carrots. I cannot find them anywhere. Someone told me that they are available in a few supermarkets but I’ve only seen the short and fat variety there too. I’m looking for something that looks slightly more rustic like this –

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If you guys know of any places that sells differently coloured vegetables, do let me know. Let a ‘foodie’ experiment. Please.

Of sad Breadsticks and Chelsea Buns

Hello hello! I’ve been meaning to update the blog about my baking adventures but laziness took over and well, here I am. Anyway, I had my second baking class on Saturday and we made ‘fancy’ breads. Some of them were so yummy! However, I never knew I’d say this but I’m tired of eating bread but I have nothing to worry about because next week we’re making tarts! 😀

We bake in this industrial sized oven and I’m pretty much in awe of it. I wish I could have something like this at home. Here’s how it looks.

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This weekend we focused on making fancy breads and we started by making a sauce for our pizza. We semi-baked the Pizza base (just like how you get the ready ones in the market), added the sauce, veggies and cheese and baked it again. Yummy yummy.

Semi-baked Pizza based

Semi-baked Pizza based

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We then proceeded to make the yummiest bread I’ve ever baked – Cheese Garlic Bread. Now I’m not a fan of cheese but I’m glad I added it here because it added a wonderful flavour.

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We also made sweet bread which we had as dessert in class. We started with Chelsea Buns with lot’s of tutti fruity. Btw, did you know that tutti fruity is called Angelica in English? I didn’t know that until Saturday!

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Remember the tutti fruity buns that you get in general stores? We made those too! We only used red coloured tutti fruity but I’m definitely going to add more coloured ones when I make it at home. I think this is a great breakfast option.

Sweet Buns

Sweet Buns

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One sad thing happened though. I was always a fan of focaccia; maybe that’s because I thought the layer of vegetables made this a healthier option but I was taken aback at the amount of oil that is used in this recipe. Yes, it is olive oil but this bread literally floats in oil. I don’t think I’m fond of this bread anymore.

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We were almost 7 hours into the baking class by this time and I was tired and exhausted. The last recipe for the day was bread sticks and I am ashamed to say that I messed it up. Royally. They’re uneven, out of shape, and just generally a disaster. A classmate added some cheese to this recipe and it tasted really good. I’m going to remember that when I’m making some at home.

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What’s your favoruite type of bread?

Nutella will save the day!

There are bad days and then there are shitty days. This day is happily floating between these options and it can swing eitherway. Usually I deal with such days by stuffing my face with comfort food – rich, calorie- laden food that makes me feel good.

However, I’m stuck in office just dreaming about food that I want to eat right now and since I can’t have most of these things right now, I’m just making a list of these items.

1. Bread, butter and chaat masala – I am not a fan of butter and I need a sprinkle of chaat masala to mask the taste of butter. I also have a weird style of eating this – I roll the slice into a ball and then eat it (Is that TMI?) Also, how can people discard the first and last slices?

Sliced Bread

2. Ripe Banana Chips and Jackfruit chips – Ripe banana chips are made by ripe bananas (duh!) and you can find them in most places where the chips are being freshly fried (Most roadside vendors have this). Jackfruit chips are slightly difficult to find; though the best ones are fried in coconut oil.

Ripe Banana Chips

Ripe Banana Chips

Jackfruit Chips

Jackfruit Chips

3. Nutella – Let me make this clear – the only way to have Nutella is to have it straight from the jar. No two ways about it. I love having it with Vita Marie biscuits. Dunk the biscuit in the jar and then it goes straight in the mouth.

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4. Samosa Pav – FRIED POTATOES. How can anyone not like Samosa Pav?

04-India-Samosas-Chaat-and-Vada-PavI’ll usually turn to these things when I’m feeling down. Do you have any favourite comfort food?

 

This Valentine’s Day get Bready!

Hello hello! I bring you some good news. I finally attended my first baking class over the weekend. Well, it’s not exactly my first baking class but the first of a three month weekend baking course that I have joined.

It started at 9 am on a Saturday morning (eeks!) and although I was tired and sleepy, I was elated when the instructor walked in and told us that we’d be baking bread for our first class. I was so happy. I love bread and this was the perfect way to start something that I’ve been wanting to do since a long time. The class went on for 8 hours and we made six different types of bread. I was so exhausted but so happy at the end of the day.

We started with dinner rolls where I tried experimented with different shapes. Some turned out to be quite nice and others, well, looked weird.

Dinner Rolls

Next came the loaf. This one was very easy to make and it tasted and felt just like store bought bread.

Bread Loaf

We followed that up with Herbed Clover Leaf bread. It is called a clover leaf bread because it resembles a clover leaf. The best thing is that you bake it in a muffin tin!

Herbed Bread

Herbed Clover Leaf Bread 2

A quick lunch break later, we made Ladi Pav (the Pav Bhaji bread). Again, very easy to make and so soft.

Ladi Pav

Ladi Pav 2

It was followed by Masala Bread. Full of flavour, this bread goes really well with masala chai. I’ve been having this for breakfast since 2 days.

Masala Bread

Masala Bread 2

The last bread for the day as a French Loaf. Unlike the other breads we had baked, this one had a hard crust and goes really well with hot, steaming soup.

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I apologize for the shoddy quality of the pictures. I wasn’t carrying my camera and I was just way too excited to click decent pictures anyway. I was showing these pictures to a friend and he just joked about how he will gift bread to his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. I absolutely loved the idea. Imagine, getting a big heart shaped masala bread as a gift. It is quirky and not a conventional gift but I would love to receive something like that rather than cookies or flowers.

So here’s the deal. If you want to gift your partner some awesome bread this Valentine’s Day, write to me and I’ll bake fresh, yummy bread for you. Trust me, it’s a gift that your partner will remember forever.

Star Wars cookies? Why not?

I’ve had a one-sided love affair with baking which means that I love baking but I haven’t really tried experimenting a lot with it. I studied Home Science in college and hence I did get to cook in college and learn the basics of baking (how awesome is that?!). When I was a student, I made a promise to myself that I will continue to bake even after I graduate and get a job. I didn’t stick to my promise and I decided to spend my weekends lazying around at home rather than bake.

Anyhow, I’m trying to change that now; I’ve even enrolled for a 3 month weekend baking course so that I learn the basics all over again. My classes start this Saturday and I’m really excited! 😀 I thought I’d do a little baking at home just to familiarize myself with the process all over again. I decided to make some cookies and I headed out to buy cookie cutters.

Now this is where the problem starts; there are very few stores that sell ‘fancy’ cookie cutters. Arife in Crawford Market is one place that sells a lot of baking equipment but I doubt there are other stores that match up to the options they offer (which aren’t too many to begin with). The branches in Andheri West and Borivali West don’t even have half the options that the Crawford Market shop stocks.

What if I want to make Star Wars cookies for a friend?

Star Wars Cookies

Star Wars Cookies

Or maybe a simple cookie puzzle for my niece?

Cookie Puzzle

Cookie Puzzle

I won’t be able to execute these ideas unless I find all the required equipment. So all you bakers out there, please help me with this. Do you guys know any stores (even online stores) where I can buy all these fancy equipments from?

How to pretend to be in Italy – Make pesto sauce at home

What’s green, gooey and tastes awesome?

That’s right, it’s pesto.

 

Pesto

Pesto

For those who don’t know, pesto is a really simple sauce made with basic ingredients.  Here are the ingredients you will need to make fresh homemade pesto.

– Basil

– Walnuts (or pine nuts)

– Garlic

– Lemon juice

– Lots of olive oil

-Salt

Blend everything together and tada, pesto’s ready 🙂

I used to be one of those people who used to opt for the safe option of ordering pasta in arrabbiata sauce (the tomato based sauce) but once I developed a liking for pesto, there was no turning back.

While pasta and pesto make a really good pair, you don’t have to restrict yourself (Though, that’s pretty close to being in heaven)

Heaven in a bowl

Heaven in a bowl

This healthy sauce can be used as a base for a lot of other things too.

Pesto Pizza

Pesto Pizza

Pesto hummus

Pesto hummus

Pesto sandwich

Pesto sandwich

You can even add a big dollop of pesto in your salad. In fact I had that for lunch today and it turned out to be rather yummy.

Are you fond of pesto too? Do you have any signature pesto dish?

 

 

Cookbooks – A cook’s best friend?

I’m not really fond of cookbooks; sure hundred pages of glossy food pictures are good to look at but how many of those recipes are you actually going to try to replicate in your kitchen? I usually visit a few of my favourite blogs or Pinterest for a little inspiration and start cooking. Tip: The ideal way to hunt for a good recipe would be to identify one or two main ingredients that you will be cooking with and then scan these blogs.

Having said that, I have been thinking of making my own cookbook at home – arts and crafts is not something that I am good at but I am really fascinated with Do-It-Yourself (DIY) stuff. I want a book where I note down all the recipes that I love so that when I’m 80 and I forget everything, I can atleast go through my book and make the food I love.

I’ve read a few blogs about how to make a DIY cookbook. Homemade cookbooks look so pretty (and vintage!) – you can decorate it the way you want it to be. Here are a few ideas that I like.

Pretty and minimalistic

Pretty and minimalistic

I think this will be easier to use while cooking

I think this will be easier to use while cooking

I can sit and stare at this the whole day

I can sit and stare at this the whole day

Do you like cookbooks? Have you made one at home?